Many creatures you come across may might not be quite what they seem, as Tim Sexton from Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, assistant manager at Attenborough Nature Centre, explains.

As you walk alongside the wildflower meadows at Attenborough Nature Reserve, why not take a closer look at some of the bees and wasps resting on the flower heads of the umbelifers – a family of aromatic plants – particularly the cow parsley and hogweed.

You may be surprised to see that some of the creatures are not bees or wasps at all; instead, they are something altogether more harmless, like the wasp beetle (pictured) that was spotted at the Barton Lane entrance to the reserve this week.

An insect version of a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’, the wasp beetle, a type of longhorn beetle, lives up to its name by mimicking the common wasp in both colouration and in its behaviour. It even moves in a jerky fashion similar to a wasp’s flight. This mimicry keeps it safe from predators, even though it is actually harmless.

This type of mimicry is known as Batesian mimicry and it is adopted by a number of different groups of organisms, each of which have evolved colours and patterns that make them appear unpalatable or dangerous to potential predators.

 

 

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